Discovery Intern: A German Road Trip

My top reasons to consider road tripping through Germany.

Germany certainly knows how to put on a show – artsy cities, magnificent castles, grand churches, and stunning turquoise lakes. Last month I spent a few days roaming the countryside and trying to lose myself in the amazing scenery this adventure had to offer, and it blew my mind. Even during my short stay, there were so many cool things to see and find, and heaps of different roads to take. The options are endless, so here’s my top 3 reasons why you should plan your own German road trip, and explore this country for yourself!

1. Towns, people, and fooooood!

Heading out of the cities, the main highways will take you through the most gorgeous little towns. Depending on your location, you might find whitewashed houses framed with dark latticework, or intricate wooden beams and lintels with flowers growing beneath almost every window. Make sure you stop from time to time and see what each place offers. I frequently visited the local bakeries for breakfast, or dropped into some quirky looking cafe for a coffee.

Sometimes English wasn’t widely spoken, so I had to make do with signing, pointing, and stuttering the few relevant German words I knew. It’s fairly easy to learn some basic words though, and by the end of my trip I was successfully able to order a toasted panini in Deutsch. Various salami and wurst (traditional German sausages) seemed to be quite a big thing throughout the country, and there’s a huge variety to snack on depending how adventurous your taste buds feel. I’d also recommend trying some cheeses or yoghurt if your diet choice permits. For dinner, my favourites were the odd corner shops or street carts selling Doners (sort of like a pita with salad and kebab meat).

Between most of these towns are seemingly endless stretches of the greenest pastures, often scattered with small shacks or buildings. Keep an eye out for some of the smaller churches too, which can be perched up high on a hill or nestled in a tree-lined valley.

2. Castles, castles everywhere!

If you like old architecture, then don’t worry - Germany has you covered! There is an abundance of old buildings from various eras that can often be found near a township on your route. Sometimes you might even come across a grand manor owned by some late King or Baron. The Bavarian fairytale castle at Neuschwanstein is a must-see!

Most towns are quite proud of their local castle/cathedral so if you get lost or can’t see anything on the map, don’t be afraid to ask the locals, as they’ll definitely point you in the right direction or suggest something just as awesome. As always, plan your visit for sunrise or sunset if you want to keep the number of tourists surrounding you to a minimum – but there’s plenty to see throughout the day too!

3. Getting back to nature

Germany (and neighbouring Austria) is home to some of the most spectacular lakes I’ve ever experienced. Take note, you may have to walk a fair way to reach some of them, but the car parks were often abundant at the start of each track. Lake Eibsee was definitely a favourite of mine! You can rent a boat and have a little cruise around the water, or take a nice stroll through the lush green forest that surrounds it, or just hunt for that totally Instagram-worthy rock that appears in everyone’s photos!

Tip: finding that rock requires some adventurous deviation from the regular path - keep an eye out for little side trails, or use a GPS if you have one!

Getting back to the forests, there are beautiful walks scattered literally EVERYWHERE around the countryside. We found one in particular just from taking a slight detour down a gravel track that led to a crossroad. Just keep an eye out for stinging nettles! … Especially if you’re from New Zealand and are used to going barefoot everywhere.

Finally, mountains form a crown surrounding many locations you’ll get to on your trip, and provide an unbeatable backdrop. You might want to plan a few extra days if climbing around the alpine areas is on the agenda, but even driving past them on your way from A to B will make your mouth drop.

And that’s all! Everything in a nutshell of why Germany is up there with one of my favourite countries to road trip through so far. I should probably mention that most rental cars are manual, so getting used to a stick-shift vehicle first might be a good idea unless you like getting thrown in the deep end. Look at some maps online, plan your route, and go for it! It’ll definitely be a trip you won’t regret taking. All that’s holding you back is yourself!

– Kaleb Anderson